You don’t have to compete in an Ironman to remain in good shape as you age. It is possible to incorporate fitness into your life without feeling like you have to totally change your daily routine. Making small changes to your exercise and diet can help you continue to thrive as you age and maintain your independence, longer.
There are some great exercises for older adults that don’t require much more than a time commitment and a great pair of sneakers! Exercise for seniors doesn’t have to be hard, and you don’t have to run out to join a gym. By incorporating these exercises into your life, you can increase your cardiovascular function, sleep more soundly, improve your balance and feel more energetic.
Exercises for Older Adults
Chair exercises for seniors are a wonderful way to help increase your balance, stability and strength with a bit of safety net. There are a wide variety of chair exercises for seniors that you can try, however, it might be best to start with the basics. It’s best to use a sturdy chair with a back tall enough for you to comfortably grab without having to bend down.
Hip Side Extensions
Standing with the back of the chair in front of you, lift your right leg out to the side--as high as you are able. Return to a resting position and repeat 10 times. Then do the same with the left leg.
Standing with the back of the chair in front of you, lift your right leg straight out behind you, without bending your knee. Return to a resting position and repeat 10 times. Then do the same with the left leg.
Standing with the back of the chair in front of you for balance, rise up as high on your toes as possible. Then lower down to flat feet and repeat 10 times.
Sitting in the chair with your feet flat on the floor, pick your right leg up off the floor and straighten your knee. Hold for a few seconds and then return your leg to a resting position. Repeat 10 times and then switch legs.
There are many health benefits of walking, including increased balance and mobility and a decreased risk of heart disease, colon cancer and diabetes. Walking is a wonderful exercise for seniors, as it doesn’t require much except time and some motivation. A 30-minute walk around your neighborhood might seem daunting at first, but if you bring a friend with you or some great walking music, it will become more than exercise--it will become an occasion.
And if you’re looking for a greater challenge, you can upgrade to hiking, which is a more rigorous form of walking. Being able to connect with nature has even been shown to help improve mental health.
Yoga is not just an exercise for seniors, it’s great for all ages. There are many different types of yoga that you can practice and some are more rigorous than others. Gentle yoga is a form of stretching that can help you remain flexible, limber and balanced as you age. The best part about yoga is that you can do it anywhere and anytime!
Here are some great video tutorials to help you work through popular poses:
Cat/Cow: Great for opening up the spine and stretching the lower back
Half Twist: Great for opening up the spine and soothes upper back tension
Seated Forward Fold: Stretches the hamstrings, spine and increases flexibility in the hip joints
Bridge into Corpse: Stretches the lower back, spine and legs and then ends with a relaxing, and much-needed, rest
Keep Maintaining Your Independence
In addition to implementing a strong fitness routine into your lifestyle, a medical alert system can also help you maintain your independence as you age.